Former War Veterans min-ister Christopher Mutsvangwa has claimed he is the one who met Chinese officials to discuss President Robert Mugabe, but says the Asian country was not interested in pushing the veteran ruler out of power.
Mugabe on March 18 told a rally in Bindura that some people in Zanu PF were so desperate to see him step down they even approached China to discuss their plans.
Speculation was rife that the 92-year-old leader was referring to Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa who visited China in July last year.
First Lady Grace Mugabe last month accused Mnangagwa of plotting to oust Mugabe.
However, Mutsvangwa — whose political future is hanging by a thread for allegedly supporting the VP — said a faction linked to Grace known as G40 had misled Mugabe about the meetings he held with the Chinese.
“In the course of discussing investments in Zimbabwe, the Chinese asked about political risk given the president’s age,” he said.
“It was not in the sense that G40 want people or the president to believe, but in the context of someone who is putting their money.
“They [Chinese] drew parallels to a retirement age father applying for a mortgage loan.
“The bank manager will ask for the working age son to co-sign so as to address life risk. State House in Harare received that report and laced it with a nefarious twist to President Mugabe.”
Mutsvangwa said he assured the Chinese that Zimbabwe was stable, despite Mugabe’s age
We were only reassuring them as people parting with their money that they have recourse to a stable and continuous leadership,” he said.
“That the Zanu PF 2014 congress had affirmed this and in appointing the two vice-presidents — Mnangagwa and [Phelekezela] Mphoko — the president had shown the way, especially with Mnangagwa because he is a long-time friend of the Chinese,
“It is the most ludicrous and ridiculous accusation, a result of misinformation by G40 that is intercepting professional advice to the president and supplanting it with garbage-in-garbage-out stuff.”
Academic Ibbo Mandaza said he did not believe the Chinese wanted Mugabe removed from power because it was not the way they conducted their international relations.
“The Chinese are too smart for that and have religiously followed a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country,” Mandaza said.
“I have never known them to be involved in any scuffle and reports that they have demanded some sort of indication from Mugabe as to who his successor would be, are nothing but rumour mongering.
“It is speculation that has no basis. If anything, I think it is the West trying to bundle China into its agenda.”
Mnangagwa told Chinese State controlled media during his visit that Zimbabwe had fallen behind its neighbours by over 20 years in terms of development.
He said the country had to swallow its pride and adopt progressive policies if it were to catch up.